Friday, September 07, 2007

Not Surprising: Maryland to Reconsider Education Spending Law

Yesterday, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) questioned the mandated increase in education spending for the state. With the education portion of the state budget topping $1.3 billion in 2007 or just shy of 10 percent of the entire state budget. With a $1.5 billion dollar budget shortfall expected next year, under the rosiest of projections, O'Malley and the General Assembly will have to be pretty stringent with the budget. For the fiscal year 2008 budget just submitted by the Governor, the education spending increase was $580 million, including a one-time infusion of funds for capital spending on school facilities.

In a radio interview with a Baltimore station, O'Malley"
questioned whether it would be "prudent" to include the full amount in the fiscal 2009 budget that he is required to submit to lawmakers by January.

"Whether we're able to do the sort of inflationary kicker at the degree to which it was originally locked in five years ago . . . remains to be seen," O'Malley said on "The Marc Steiner Show" on Baltimore's WYPR (88.1 FM). "I'm not sure it would be prudent to do that, given the $580 million that just came in. But that, again, is something that has to be worked out with the General Assembly and leaders there."

O'Malley later told reporters that the state might consider capping future funding increases at a percentage less than dictated by the formula or holding off on increases until the state budget crisis is solved.
I like both of the latter ideas, but instead of just waiting until the budget crisis is resolved, why don't state legislative and education leaders spend a few years figuring how to spend the nearly $9,000 per student (statewide average) a little better. Budget crunches in the state are a good time to reflect not only on spending priorities but also on whether the spending that is currently occuring is worth the money.

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